Fasting With Zahra (Berpuasa Bersama Zahra)

Cover of Fasting With Zahra by Yuni W

Title : Fasting with Zahra (Berpuasa Bersama Zahra)
Author : Yuni W.
Illustrator : Ria Kriwil
Publisher : Erlangga for Kids
Year of Publishing : 2006
Age Suggestion : 6+
Type : Picture Storybooks




Indonesian books, again! I’m always excited to review my country’s children’s books. Don’t think I will go very easy on them, besides how can we gain the most progress if we always go easy on ourselves? Not in my thought, though 😀


(Here’s another Indonesian children’s books; The City of Wonder by Mrs.Arleen Amidjaja


Now, this is not only about my country’s children, but also my country’s vast majority religion, Islam. Recently, many people are afraid of Muslims because the stereotypes hold against them, but I must tell you, Islam is definitely the same with other religions who wants peace among people. You will surely learn that from this book. And you can learn Indonesian language too, if you’re non-Indonesian, and Indonesian kids can learn english. That’s the beauty of bilingual.


Well, let’s get on with the story. The story is about one little girl called Zahra in the middle of Ramadhan months. Quick explanation, Ramadhan is one of the Arabic months determined by Allaah when Muslims must hold their hunger and thirst during the day. When the daybreak, we can break the fasting, too.


As a little girl, Zahra surely faces the big challenge of holding what she wants, or the tension of postponing her basic needs, like eating and drinking. But, she always remembered what her mother said and tried really hard to pass the challenge. Can you imagine what we feel when we see an Ice cream truck in the middle of the hot day? Well, when we were fasting, we must hold our drooling over the ice cream. This is what Zahra must face.


“Kalau aku minum juga tidak apa-apa karena ibu tidak akan tahu,” pikir Zahra sambil terus berjalan. “Tapi…,” tiba-tiba langkah Zahra terhenti. Walaupun ibu tidak tahu, pasti Allaah akan tahu…”


(Translation : “It’s okay to have some es teler if mother doesn’t know,” thought Zahra. “But…,” suddenly she stopped walking. “Even if mother doesn’t know, Allaah knows…)


A bit note here; es teler is Indonesian version of Ice cone, the shaved ice with mixed fruits like avocado, jackfruit, coconut, finished with syrup and condesed sweetened milk. Hmm, yum! Fyi, Allaah is Muslim’s worshipped God.


Sometimes, the challenge is not about her body, but also about her soul, as she looked a little girl, maybe at her age, sitting and crying alone in her way home from school. Out of sympathy, Zahra approached her and soon the girl told her that her mother was sick while they didn’t have money to buy any medicine.


“Zahra lalu teringat kata ibu. Selama bulan puasa, sebaiknya kita banyak bersedekah.”


(Translation : “Then Zahra remembered what her mother had said. ‘During the fasting month, we should give to charity.'”)


You might guess what’s next, the very nice girl Zahra comes to the rescue! 🙂



This is the first time I saw Indonesian children’s books’ illustration is more interactive than ever. I mean, the setting place of the story is kinda typical, like rooms and the way home from school, that it might lead into some kind of boring background. I can’t really expect the crazy illustration from Indonesian children’s books’ illustrator just yet, but at least it gives us something more than just a chair and a table. Believe me, I’ve seen those kinds of illustration.


I must give a credit to Erlangga too, because the translation into English is free from typo or grammar error, which I often found in bilingual Indonesian children’s books. But, I kinda think the dialogue in Indonesian version is way too formal, like kids will say something like that. Well, not my kid, at least 😀


The missing point of the book is the es teler seller in the illustration. He stops in front of Indonesian school while many kids, except for Zahra, buy some es teler from him. Oh, you will almost never find it in Indonesia, where there’s the food or beverages seller cart hangs out in the front of the school during Ramadhan. (And the book shop closed instead? I’m super confused. It’s a school day, the book shop must be open!)


The teacher or the security people will ask them to move, only during this fasting month, as the authority, I mean all the authority, will be afraid of children can be lured to buy some foods and drinks, just like in the picture.


And it’s almost impossible for children can buy foods near school environment during Ramadhan too, as the teachers might watch children carefully, standing and yelling in front of the school gate to avoid the children becomes misbehave or goofing around with friends (things that Mr.Roald Dahl, and me too honestly, very disliked about authority). But, Mrs.Ria Kriwil (do you know “kriwil” means “very curly hair”? I bet she has a curly hair) might want to show us something else, the ideal world where the authority behaves themselves instead!


Another missing point is the bread in the poor girl’s home. It might be a bit of spoiler, excuse me, but it’s tiny I ensure you, but there are only few breads in the house of Zahra’s new friend when the day almost break. Bread in the house of Indonesian’s poor people? Definitely not gonna happen.


Indonesian ordinary people will serve the rice first and foremost in almost every situation. First, rice is always cheaper than bread generally speaking (we’re talking about the poor girl here, right?), and it’s simply our main dish. Some poor people even choose to eat only with rice and salt, that’s all. Except for more remote tribal areas, they might have the corn instead (in the shape of rice, still).


A little bit note, nowadays, our main dish is also Indomie (the most famous dominant brand of the noodles in Indonesia) if you know what I mean.


The title itself also missed the mark. Mrs.Yuni W wanted to talk about fasting, but the main theme became helping people in needs, and lacking about fasting itself. The right-on target was only the few first pages when she talked about how Zahra avoided temptation of es teler.

The nice thing is, you can learn about the praying verse when you break your fast in the end. It’s always nice to have some additional notes like that.


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